Write/Speak/Code wrapped up this past Saturday in Chicago and wow - what a jam packed four (or in my case 4.5) days!
When I last participated in the conference, I was an attendee only a year into my career as a software engineer. Additionally I had never participated in a conference as an employed software engineer.
The lessons I learned and the advice I received were invaluable. One thing that really stuck with me that first year was how accessible everyone was, how willing to help. Women I may never have otherwise spoken with, such as Carol Willing - a research scientist working on the Jupyter Project and Director at the Python Software Foundation, answered my questions at the OSS hack. Even women that were remote made themselves able to answer questions. Coraline Ehmke’s 2015 keynote opened my heart to the idea that we can change the technical spaces we navigate. That we can build them in our own image if we work and rely on one another.
Fast forward to June 2016 when I’m writing this and what can I say has changed? Well since Write/Speak/Code 2015 I have:
Spoken at three conferences on three separate topics, I have two more upcoming (including one overseas!)
Assisted in organizing 35 PyLadies Chicago events
Brought DjangoGirls to Chicago (stay tuned - we’re planning another for the fall!)
Recognized in Crain’s 20 in their 20’s for my work promoting accessibility in tech
Voted onto the Board of Directors for the Python Software Foundation
Edited as a technical reviewer O’Reilly’s upcoming book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Python written by Tanya Schlusser
Promoted and awarded a company value award from my company, Sprout Social
Organized my first conference - Write/Speak/Code 2016
Write/Speak/Code at it’s heart is about community empowerment. Together we can promote one another and recognize our significant contributions as women coders. Community is what helped me start to speak, to contribute to OSS, to organize. Or as Naomi Ceder framed it in her Speak Day keynote:
This year I chose to give back to Write/Speak/Code as a conference organizer. I worked mainly on speaker outreach alongside Lisa van Gelder, NYC Write/Speak/Code organizer, and the turnout from this effort is nothing short but sensational. Write/Speak/Code had its first public CFP where we received close to 150 submissions for keynotes, the applicants who I’m happy to say came from a broad range of backgrounds and identities.
With my first conference organizing effort behind me, I’m pumped to apply what I learned to next year’s conference (and hopefully to the first ever PyLadies Conference)! While I didn’t get to participate in nearly all the events as much as I would have liked to, I am truly humbled by the high fives and hugs from attendees who thanked me for my work, from the advice learned from the seasoned Write/Speak/Code board. And most importantly for the friends I have made along the way.
If I can do this in just over a year, what could you do?
P.S. If you want to see more thoughts from attendees check out the #wsc2016conf Twitter hashtag!